You’ve decided you need an electric spaghetti fork, and, by gosh, you want the best electric spaghetti fork ever created by the hands of humanity. Things get tricky. One website says that Bugle Corp. makes the best one available, while another site insists that the Bugle model is garbage. The BeCool model gets an average customer review of 4 stars on the Ya-Gotta-Buy-It-Here.com site, but there’s that one customer who rated it with just one star (“It electrocuted my dog”).
What are you going to do? How are you going to decide? Who are you supposed to believe?
Freud would hypothesize that if you don’t like your mother, and your mother owned an electric spaghetti fork from Bugle, you’re buyin’ the BeCool model. You would, of course, convince yourself that your mother had nothing to do with the decision.
See how authority works?
I’m sorry to say that authority runs a similar game when it comes to theology.
John Calvin said humanity has been so thoroughly corrupted by sin that individuals are not capable of turning to God on their own. Jacobus Arminius disagreed. He argued that every person has some spark of God’s creation within his or her soul which can resonate with the God’s call. Thousands of people, a whole heck of a lot smarter than you and me, have argued this one theological point for hundreds of years and, I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn, no one has won this argument.
You know what’s even more interesting? There are actual people out who have decided to try the Jesus-thing who were influenced toward that path by the Calvinist tradition. And there are others who reached that decision through the Arminian tradition. And maybe even more interesting, I’ve met folks who are brilliant at building cases for one tradition over the other, and who are also some of the meanest people I’ve ever met.
- Who first told you what you were supposed to “believe” when it came to religious faith?
- What do you know about where those folks got their ideas about what is “true?”
- What were told about the consequences of not believing correctly?